The more complicated the project, the bigger the case for an experienced Executive Architect to spearhead the scheme.This has never been clearer than when working as the lead on Willow’s Sandstone Precinct, alongside the design team from UK firm, Make Architects, on the reimagining of the twin heritage structures above Circular Quay. Currently serving as NSW Government offices, the two buildings have substantial heritage value that have presented significant challenges to the project team.
Between us, our team has worked on dozens of heritage restoration and redevelopment projects across many parts of the world. I have no hesitation describing this as the most complicated heritage project in Australia today, and certainly the most complicated any of us have ever worked on.
The Sandstone precinct site is jointly overseen by Federal, State and municipal Government bodies and requires the deep involvement of heritage and archaeology bodies committed to maintaining everything of historic value on-site. It’s the best case I’ve ever seen for an Executive Architect to be lead consultant on a project.
Willow (previously as Ridley) was brought onto ‘The Sandstones’ to oversee the project as the local registered architect, working alongside Make’s design architecture team. Willow has been working for the best part of two years to-date to thoroughly assess the twin sites and deliver a buildable design that protects and celebrates their heritage value.
Given the age and heritage aspects of the buildings, the lack of available original drawings and many modifications made to both structures over the years, a highly-detailed study of the existing site was critical. Ridley subsequently undertook a thorough point cloud survey to produce a working 3D digital model of the entire site.
This has involved laser-scanning the entire facility and assessing every structural element in close collaboration with heritage and archaeology experts, and the various Government stakeholders with responsibility over the site. The project team has had to constantly adapt, as this painstaking process has uncovered new heritage and structural elements that need to be incorporated into the final designs.